Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scripture: Taking Its Proper Place

I've been reading from an anthology edited by Dr. Norman Geisler called "Inerrancy." Specifically, the subject is biblical inerrancy. Along with that, I've been re-reading portions of "The Battle for the Bible" by Harold Lindsell. But Dr. Geisler's anthology is what has my attention today.

While skimming through it, I came across a chapter written by Dr. Robert Preus of Concordia Seminary, where Dr. Preus reviews Martin Luther's attitude toward God's Word. I'd like to excerpt a portion of the chapter to encourage your hearts today:

But there is another reason why Luther valued the Scriptures so highly, namely, their power; power to comfort, to save, to regenerate, to lead the child of God to eternal life. In this sense and for this purpose God speaks mightily to us in the sacred Scriptures. This is the very purpose of the Holy Spirit, even as He diligently describes the most shameful, adulterous history, the most despised, filthy, and damnable things in Scripture: to teach, reprove, admonish, bless, and save us. Luther never tires of extolling the practical value of Scripture for the life of a believer.

It makes us happy, trustful, confident Christians and puts us at peace with God. It is our defence against the temptations of the devil, the world, and our flesh. It instructs us in the true worship and service of God and in how to be a good theologian. It sanctifies, reforms, and comforts us. But most important of all, we learn about God and His grace in Scripture, and so we gain eternal life. In this is the great power of the Scripture. For Scripture not only points us to Christ, it shares Christ with us and bestows Him on us. It brings us to faith, and through it the Holy Spirit comes to us with all His treasures and blessings. Scripture does all this; it possesses the intrinsic power to do so because it is God's Word, because the Spirit of God is never separated from it, and because its message is Christ. "All the works which Christ performed are recorded in the Word, and in the Word and through the Word He will give us everything, and without the Word He will give us nothing.

To be sure, the preached Gospel has all the power of the written Word of Scripture; but the preached word (and all theology) is to be drawn only from the one divine foundation of Scripture.

In this day and age where the Word of God is under renewed attack, this is a good reminder of how closely we as believers need to hold to biblical truth. No matter how unpopular we get, or how much the world mocks.

God's Word is a sure foundation.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Hans Litten: What a Story!

The World War II period has always fascinated me. Not only was it populated by "the greatest generation," it also is the source of many, many stories of personal courage, devotion and sacrifice for a greater good.

Today, the BBC has profiled an upcoming drama based on the life of Hans Litten, a Jewish lawyer who was among the first to recognize Hitler for what he was, earning the Fuhrer's everlasting hatred. This is one drama I wish I could see. I am posting the link this morning as I think you'll find it inspiring as well.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mindless Legalism? Um, No.

So why am I posting a pix of Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" character? Because I'm irked.

One of the things that really jerks my chain is when people get accused of "legalism" when they actually dare to say that Christians ought to be biblical in their behavior. Dr. John MacArthur, whom I really respect as a Bible teacher, gets accused of it quite often.

What provoked the most recent brouhaha? John wrote this blog post expressing concern about churches becoming known as "booze" ministries. He wasn't making the case that partaking of alcohol is sin. He is concerned about the testimony of churches that link evangelism around alcohol etc.

Now John's well-considered post appears to have provoked a firestorm. Some blogger known as "Zionica" posted this mocking retort in the past few days. I think he completely missed the point of what John was saying, as John's most vocal critics often do.

I personally had a chance to watch John's alleged "legalism" at work over in Moscow, Russia. He was teaching at a pastor's conference, and if you know one thing about Russian Baptist churches, some of them do wrestle with legalism. The gathered pastors were trying to get John to say that smoking was a sin, but John told them plainly that he could not make such a statement because smoking is not addressed in Scripture. You can make a case that it's a stupid thing to do as it can harm the body. You can make a case that it doesn't help one's witness. But he could not declare it a sin because the Bible does not say so.

Finally, after being questioned and questioned and questioned over and over again, he wanted to move on to other subjects and light-heartedly said, "Okay, okay. Smoking's a sin! I'm not going to die on that hill." Most everyone in the room got the joke and laughed along with John.

John MacArthur is NOT a legalist. I think many people don't even understand what the term actually means when they fling the charge. As I understand legalism, it is attaching certain actions and behaviors to salvation, i.e. you have to do X, Y, and Z to be saved or abstain from X, Y, or Z to be saved. In other words, salvation by works. That is not what John believes, and that is not what I believe. However, God's Word does command that His people be set apart, sanctified, and to not identify with the world. We keep His commands because we love Him, not because we think commandment-keeping earns our way to heaven.

When the behavior of believers is indistinguishable from the world, Houston, we have a problem.

Boy, do we have a problem.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Vaporings about Church and State

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been causing quite a stir of late. It's not just because he's thinking of running for president.

Gov. Perry recently led a prayer meeting that has all sorts of people in a tizzy. Take Amy Sullivan's column in Time about the prayer meeting. Apparently she has a problem with the governor leading and organizing the prayer meeting. Violates church and state separation. You know, the same old folderol.

Let me educate a bit. The U.S. Constitution says that the Congress shall make no law ESTABLISHING a religion, i.e. making a national church like the Church of England. That's it. Period. The Constitution goes on to say that the free exercise of religion may not be prohibited. Period.

Now, the courts and politicians have done their level best to torture and stretch that out of the meaning of the Founders. Governor Perry has the same religious rights as any of us. It doesn't matter whether he holds public office. If he wants to personally call a prayer meeting in the Christian faith, he has the right to do so. He is not establishing an official state church by law.

It's time for people to quit bellyaching and vaporing over this, and stop trying to drive religion out of the public square. For the record, I have my own concerns about Governor Perry as a presidential candidate. I might even have issues with his prayer meeting on a theological level if I found it to be overly ecumenical. However, I have no problem at all with the fact that the governor organized, called and participated in a Christian prayer meeting.

I am pretty certain our Founding Fathers wouldn't have been bothered in the least either. Get over it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Another End of Era Moment

As most of you who follow this blog (patiently, I might add) know, I have spent much of the spring and summer caring for my ill mother, who turned 88 this past June. I haven't had a lot of time for posting, or following up on comment threads that need answers. I will get things back to normal in time, and thank you for praying for us.

In the meantime, Mom and I have been talking quite a bit about "days gone by," and how more and more of the "greatest generation" — the World War II era — have been leaving us. Today, this headline from the BBC hit, telling us of the passing of "White Mouse." This special lady was among the Gestapo's most wanted during World War II because she helped people escape from occupied France. She always managed to elude the Gestapo's grasp, which wasn't an easy task in those days.

I hope you'll be inspired by her story. I wonder at times if anyone in our modern-day world has the character needed to survive such times if we're ever faced by them again in this country. I pray so.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Miley, Miley, Miley!

Miley Cyrus seems bound and determined to dive headlong into the gutter and make a mockery of God in the process.

Check out this new little controversy over at The Christian Post. The actual controversy began on Miley's Twitter account, but the Post picked the story up. And the story is maddening, but not unexpected given her trajectory of late.

Earth to Miley. Yes, "God is love," as you state. But part of loving God is obeying Him. Scripture (God's Word) is abundantly clear on the subject of homosexuality. Reject His Word and His commands, and you reject God. Jesus Himself said, "If you love Me, keep my commandments."

One more thing. Someone needs to educate Miley on the subject of judging, which she misunderstands and misapplies like many others. We are not to judge hearts and motivations, but we are to judge actions and behaviors. Jesus also said "judge with righteous judgment." We are to judge those within the church when they fall into sin and false teaching, and are unrepentant.

Miley Cyrus has made much of her Christian faith. So she's due for a bit of correction by her brothers and sisters in Christ. And that's assuming she is truly saved, which I am beginning to question.